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Wang v. Williamsville Central School District

April 18, 2010

PING WANG AND ZHAOFANG GUO, AS PARENTS AND NATURAL GUARDIANS FOR KG PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WILLIAMSVILLE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs Ping Wang and Zhaofang Guo commenced this action as parents and natural guardians for "KG," by filing a Complaint in the Supreme Court for the State of New York, Erie County, alleging that Defendant violated their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C § 1983, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq., ("IDEA"), and defamed KG. Thereafter, Defendant removed the case to this Court based on federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

Presently before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and (b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The following facts are taken from the Complaint, or are otherwise undisputed, and are presumed true for purposes of this Decision and Order. Plaintiffs Ping Wang and Zhaofang Guo are the parents of KG. (Complaint, ¶ 2.) At all relevant times, KG was a student in the Williamsville Central School District ("the District"). (¶¶ 5-6.)

On April 17, 2007, while KG was in art class, two students approached him and said, "[y]ou're such a loser." (¶ 10.) KG responded, "[a]t least I wasn't the only oriental loser." (¶ 10.)

The next day, April 18, 2007, the same two students approached KG, and asked, "so [KG], are you going to kill anyone?" ( ¶ 11.) KG responded, "I don't even own a 9mm." (Compl. ¶ 11.) The two students then "made comments" to their teacher about KG, who, in turn, reported to school authorities. (¶ 11.) As a result, KG was suspended. (¶ 11.) On April 18, 2007, the District required that KG undergo a psychiatric evaluation at a hospital, after which he was permitted to return to school. (¶ 18.) During his suspension, KG missed one test. (¶ 19.) The parties agree the suspension lasted one day. (Docket Nos. 3-4 at 2, 8 at 3.) Prior to his suspension, KG had never been is disciplinary trouble at any school in the District. (Complaint, ¶ 12.)

The District knew that KG was diagnosed as "likely or very likely" to have a disability known as Asperger's Disorder-Autistic Spectrum Disorder. (¶ 14.) The District also knew that KG was suffering from depression. (¶ 15.) However, the District failed to act on that knowledge and provide protection or services to KG in connection with the April 18, 2007 incident. (¶ 15.) Instead, according to Plaintiffs, the District was influenced by a recent incident at the Virginia Technical University*fn1 campus, and punished KG because of his race-Asian-by requiring that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation. (¶¶ 16-18.)

On numerous occasions between April 18, 2007 and June 2007 [sic], KG was bullied and taunted by other students. (¶¶ 20-21.) Plaintiffs reported many incidents to the District, but it failed to take reasonable action. (¶¶ 21, 23-24.)

According to Plaintiffs, the District "acted in a discriminatory manner" in failing to protect KG. (¶ 27.) They further contend that the District "made public comments regarding the status of . . . KG, thereby defaming his character and reputation." (¶ 28.)

Plaintiffs requested that KG be transferred to another school within the District. (¶ 29.) The request was denied. (¶ 30.) Plaintiffs then removed KG from the District, and placed him in a private school where they had to pay tuition. (Compl. ¶ 31.)

B. The Complaint and Motion

Based on these fact allegations, Plaintiffs claim that the District: (1) denied KG a free and appropriate education in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Education Law of New York State by suspending him and failing to protect him (¶¶ 32-35); (2) violated his due process rights when it required him to undergo a psychiatric examination as a condition of his return to school (¶¶ 36-41); (3) violated his rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983 (¶¶ 16, 42-44); (4) violated his rights under the IDEA (¶¶ 45-47); and (5) made defamatory statements to the public that harmed K.G.'s character and reputation (¶¶ 48-51).

The District moves to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standards of Review

i. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it. Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the existence of federal jurisdiction. Lujan v. ...


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